New Labor Department Guidelines Bans Discrimination Against Faith-Based Organizations in Grant Programs

The Frances Perkins Building of the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. | Wikimedia Commons / Ed Brown

U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia issued new guidance barring the department, service providers and state agencies from discriminating based on religious belief in a move aimed at improving the ability of faith-based organizations to participate in grant programs. 

On Friday, Scalia became the latest department head to issue a new directive and guidance following President Donald Trump’s 2017 executive order and ensuing directives calling on federal government agencies to issue guidelines on how to best protect religious freedom.

“The directive and guidance issued today acknowledge the central role that religion and religious freedom play in civil society,” Scalia, son of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, said in a statement.

“The directive and guidance issued today send a clear message that the Department of Labor will continue to uphold religious liberty for America’s workforce, employees of the Department, and religious organizations.”

Scalia issued department-wide guidance on grant policies to “improve public awareness and clarity about the Department’s protections for religious liberty interests in grant administration.”

According to the department, the guidance “works to improve the ability of nonprofit and faith-based organizations to defend their rights and participate in DOL programs.”

“DOL, DOL social service providers, and State and local governments administering DOL support must not discriminate against a program beneficiary or prospective program beneficiary on the basis of religion, religious belief, a refusal to hold a religious belief, or a refusal to attend or participate in religious practice,” the guidance document reads.

“Program providers must not impermissibly restrict program beneficiaries’ rights to exercise religious freedom. DOL, DOL social service providers, and State and local governments administering DOL support are not precluded from accommodating religion in a constitutionally permissible manner.”

According to the department, the new guidance gives more certainty to nonprofit and faith-based organizations regarding “what guarantees the Department’s regulations give grantees to preserve their religious character.”

Furthermore, the document declares that religious organizations do not forfeit their exemption from federal discrimination laws if they receive direct or indirect support from the department.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith